WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 23, 2011, 10:28 PM

Grand Forks Whitey's Wonder Bar will re-open after being closed for 9 months

Grand Forks (WDAZ-TV) - After being closed for nearly 9 months, the iconic Whitey's Wonderbar will open this week.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Grand Forks (WDAZ-TV) - After being closed for nearly 9 months, the iconic Whitey's Wonderbar will open this week.

The bar closed in February because of financial problems and was sold at auction in May. On Sunday night, the new owner put on a so-called "soft opening."

Those who helped get the restaurant open again received a taste of the new Whitey's.

Tim Bjerk and his wife Kristi are welcoming guests into the newly-renovated Whitey's Wonder Bar and Restaurant. They bought the restaurant this spring and have been working 16 or more hours a day getting ready for this moment.

"We have been waiting to get people in here to test what we have created for months," owner Tim Bjerk said.

Bjerk wanted to take the restaurant in a different direction. He added a separate evening dining area off of the traditional bar area. In the process, he replaced almost everything except the famous horseshoe shaped bar.

"You can come out with your buddies and still have the same place where you would like to take you wife our for a nice meal," Bjerk said.

One of the first to sample the place is Paul Blomquist. He calls the changes "shocking" and says he's happy they kept some historic features.

“There is a lot of the old, you look at the ceiling and what not. A lot of that is here, they really did a lot of work," Blomquist said.

“I like what they have done. If you look around, there are pictures of Whitey's as it went through the ages," Whitey's regular Dick Anderson said.

Anderson, who has been coming to Whitey's for 30 years, says the new menu will keep him coming back for another 30.

"We just got through our soup and salad. We just tried the crab cakes and they are delicious," Anderson said.

East Grand Forks’ city leaders were also here, thankful someone would keep this piece of the city's history alive.

"Mofia days where some of the big gangsters came to. So it's a name that many Winnipeg people have come to, It's a name that many East Grand Forks, and Grand Forks people have visited through the years," mayor Lynn Stauss said.

And with the modern changes to the this historic place, East Grand Forks is hoping it will be here for many more yeas.

Whitey's will be fully open within a couple days.